Pregnancy and Weight Gain
Keep healthy with our sensible guide to eating and exercising right during pregnancy.
The media has a tendency to place unrealistic expectations on a woman’s body image, particularly during and just after pregnancy. We’re constantly being bombarded with images of celebrity mums with waif-like figures, when in fact, the focus shouldn’t even be on a woman’s weight or dress size!
What’s important is to factor in the health benefits of a sensible diet and exercise before, during and after pregnancy. It’s so deliciously easy to succumb to endless ice-cream cravings; knowing the risks to you and your baby and making informed decisions to manage your well-being during pregnancy will lead to rewarding health benefits.
Whether you’re planning for a baby or are already pregnant, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime will decrease the health risks for both you and your baby. Ideally a woman’s BMI (Body Mass Index) should be under 30 and the fitter a women is, the less likely she will suffer from the strains of pregnancy. Even if you start a pregnancy overweight it’s never too late to take charge of your body and responsibility for your growing baby’s health. Maintaining your fitness during this remarkable time in your life will have long-term health benefits for you and your baby.
|BMI Before Pregnancy
|Recommended Weight Gain
|Less than 18.5
|12.5 - 18 kg
|28 - 40 lbs.
|Between 18.5 and 24.9
|11.5 - 16 kg
|25 - 35 lbs.
|Between 25 and 29.9
|7 - 11.5 kg
|15 - 25 lbs.
|More than 30
|At most 7 kg
|At most 15 lbs.
Source: Matilda Hospital
What you eat and how often you eat is vitally important during pregnancy. Experts agree that having small portions more frequently throughout a day provides a good balance. Three meals a day and two to three healthy snacks should be just right.
What to avoid!
- Raw fish
- Unpasteurized juice
Eat nutritious meals for both yourself and your growing baby. Eat plenty of protein and consider taking prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements including folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin D. Don’t take “eating for two” literally as there is no need for any additional calories at this stage.
Recommended: Foods rich in folate such as asparagus, broccoli, eggs and oranges. Foods high in vitamin B6 such as bananas, beans and brown rice.
Your energy needs will become more demanding and it’s suggested that a women eat two to three servings a day from any of the food groups. You may allow an additional 300 calories a day to keep your energy levels.
Recommended: Foods rich in calcium such as almonds, milk, yogurt and baked beans. Foods high in iron such as porridge, spinach, chicken and dried apricots. For beta-carotene try carrots, sweet potato, mango and papaya. For omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts and sardines in your diet.
Continue to eat iron, calcium and protein rich foods. It’s suggested to consume an additional 450 calories a day for the final stretch. Add foods rich in vitamin K.
Recommended: To boost energy try banana bread, cheese on toast, gingerbread, hummus with pita, apple and bran muffins. Also include foods high in vitamin K like pasta, melon, green beans, watercress, and wholemeal toast.
Exercise During Pregnancy
- Check with your healthcare professional to see if you should continue with your pre-pregnancy sports or workouts
- Revise your exercise programme to reduce the risk of falls
- If exercise wasn’t a part of your daily routine before pregnancy, then stick to moderate exercise like walking or swimming
- Low-impact aerobics and dancing
- Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels)
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Warm up and cool down (before and after exercise)
- High-impact activities that involve more direct force on the body (running or jogging, squash and tennis)
- Horseback riding
- Extreme sports that have an inherent risk of danger (scuba diving, bungee jumping, wakeboarding, downhill skiing and hang gliding)
- Contact sports (football, rugby, hockey and netball)
- Amusement park rides
An ideal way to keep fit after giving birth is by walking. Either take a “mother break” (with Baby at home with Dad or Helper) or pop Baby into a jogging stroller and head out to one of Hong Kong’s walking tracks. Both Bowen Road and the trail between Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay will do you wonders!
Consider buying a pedometer and track the amount of steps you take daily. Create a baseline then set your ultimate goal for 10,000 steps a day. As you build up your speed and stamina, try walking longer distances to help you lose weight, clear your mind and reduce stress.
Finally, Kegel exercises are not just valuable during pregnancy, but are beneficial for women in the long run. Keep the habit of doing Kegels whether you’re at home or the office to help your pelvic floor muscles recover faster.
The changes to your body are significant during the nine months of pregnancy so don’t add any additional pressure on yourself to lose weight. Instead, focus on staying healthy by eating right and exercising